For many decades Janet Holmes à Court has generously supported cultural and arts organisations ranging across theatre, art, music, urban design and architecture. As well as being honoured for her philanthropy, she will also deliver today’s Occasional Address to hundreds of proud graduating students and their families at UniSA’s afternoon graduation ceremony.
Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says UniSA is pleased to recognise Janet Holmes à Court for her outstanding contribution to the arts community, cultural organisations and to business – both in Australia and internationally.
“Janet has been a strong promoter of public ethics in corporate life and her own philanthropy has inspired other business people to invest in the arts,” Prof Lloyd says.
“Over the years Janet has served on many boards and generously supported the arts and other causes including research into cancer and diabetes.
“Her contribution to the community and to business has been recognised with many awards and honours including a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) and being named one of the National Trust of Australia's '100 Living Treasures'.
“Among her many achievements, Janet has long been a supporter of Australian and Aboriginal art, and has built an internationally renowned collection that documents many areas of Australian cultural significance.”
Today, the Holmes à Court Art Collection consists of more than 4,000 registered artworks. Where possible, the collection is available for curatorial research and displayed in galleries around Australia through a program of lending.
Born Janet Lee Ranford in 1943, she grew up in the hills behind Perth where her parents instilled in her an enduring love of art, music and theatre. After graduating with a science degree from the University of Western Australia, Janet taught science for a number of years.
In 1966, she married Perth lawyer Robert Holmes à Court who went on to become Australia's first billionaire. The family fortune grew by acquiring control over some 200 companies, including TV Channel 7 in Perth and the largest media group in the United Kingdom.
Following her husband’s sudden death at the age of 53 in 1990, Holmes à Court took over management of the family company – Heytesbury Pty Ltd – and successfully built up the group’s cattle, horse breeding, vineyards, wine and engineering concerns.
Janet Holmes à Court is Chairman of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and was a founding patron and chairman of Western Australia's Black Swan Theatre Company (now the State Theatre Company).
As chair of Stoll Moss Theatres, Holmes à Court refurbished the majority of London's theatres resulting in her being named British Business Woman of the Year in 1995 and she was appointed to the Board of the Reserve Bank from 1994-97 by Paul Keating.
Holmes à Court was also a foundation supporter of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and an Honorary Councillor of the Business in the Arts Foundation.
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